The G.O.A.T. Debate
As we sat and watched in awe, The Los Angeles Lakers capture their unprecedented 17th world championship. We, the basketball fans begin to analyze, whos really the best to ever do it? Who’s the Greatest Of All Time (G.O.A.T.)? It’s one of those timeless rabbit holes that we all are drawn into every time we witness something amazing. We can’t help ourselves, this is how we judge greatness.
So who really is the G.O.A.T.? a few names come to mind but one, in particular, is the man who was given the name. A street legend by the name of Earl Manigault. Manigault was particularly famous for his leaping abilities, able to touch the top of the backboard to retrieve quarters and dollar bills, part of “elaborate innovations and tricks” elite street players of the era performed before games to help build their reputations. Although never made it to the NBA his name is synonymous what streetball basketball courts all over New York mainly in Harlem. a reporter with ass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (more on him later)who was the greatest player he ever faced his answer was Earl Manigault. There was even a movie about him titled “THE G.O.A.T. starring Don Cheadle tellin the story of his legacy and impact on the playground sport. But somehow his nick-name the G.O.A.T. made its way from Harlem and traveled all across the country. So now anyone that does anything better than anyone else now is given that moniker, it’s clear now the highest achievement anyone can receive. No matter what it is, where it’s basketball or basket-weaving, if no one can find anyone to do it better than you, you were the G.O.A.T.
Now when it comes to the sport of basketball, depending on who you are talking to, you’ll get different answers. And no matter where you are, whether it’s at your job, on social media, the barbershop, or even your church parking lot. This has a tendency of getting ugly. As basketball fans wear their hearts on their sleeve when it comes to their favorite players. There’s a lot of factors involved, the number of championships being the main one. Also MVPs, eras in which they played, playing level of teammates, individual achievements, and how they changed the game.
When it comes to Lebron James, there is no question he’s the greatest of this generation. You can’t say enough about him on and off the court, what he means to the game, how he gives back to the community, and how he’s paved the way for generations to come. He has built schools, countless charity events, and has been the perfect role model for young men and women. But here’s what he’s done on the court,
He’s a 4× NBA champion (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4× NBA Finals MVP (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), 4× NBA Most Valuable Player (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), 16× NBA All-Star (2005–2020), 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 2008, 2018), 13× All-NBA First Team (2006, 2008–2018, 2020)
He’s clearly one of the best to ever play the game and his legacy is still being written. So many would say he’s the G.O.A.T. right? I mean for a decade, he pretty much WAS the NBA Finals. The Ultimate teammate, I mean he’s KING JAMES! A man who came into the league with the highest expectations ever and exceeded all of them, one you could easily build a franchise around, won against the most elite competition. But everyone is not so convinced.
Now let’s look at Michael Jordan. “HIS AIRNESS” 6× NBA champion (1991–1993, 1996–1998),6x NBA Finals MVP (1991–1993, 1996–1998), 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998),14× NBA All-Star (1985–1993, 1996–1998, 2002, 2003), 10× NBA scoring champion (1987–1993, 1996–1998), 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1988–1993, 1996–1998), a couple of Olympic medals and a host of other accolades.
Heck, even his shoes are of G.O.A.T. status. I mean back in the ’90s who didn’t want to “BE LIKE MIKE”. I mean he never lost in the finals. Don’t get me wrong he’s not the role model Lebron is off the court, but he was the ultimate competitor on the court.
So now that’s settled, M.J. is the goat? Right? Not so fast. Now if you were from the elder generations you would probably throw in names like Lew Alcindor(Kareem Abdul-Jabar), Bill Russell, or even Wilt Chamberlain. All of them have a right to be in this conversation, but it’s hard to judge if you never have seen them play, but you can look at the numbers and be amazed.
Kareem looks like this, 6× NBA champion (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988), 2× NBA Finals MVP (1971, 1985), 6× NBA Most Valuable Player (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980), 19× NBA All-Star (1970–1977, 1979–1989)5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1974, 1975, 1979–1981), 2× NBA scoring champion (1971, 1972), NBA rebounding champion (1976), 4× NBA blocks leader (1975, 1976, 1979, 1980)and a host of other accolades. When you talk about the total body of work (high school, college & pros) the resume’ gets no better.
Bill Russell is the best defensive player that ever lived, you can make the case for him. And he has the most championship rings with 11, also 5× NBA Most Valuable Player (1958, 1961–1963, 1965), 12× NBA All-Star (1958–1969), 4× NBA rebounding champion (1958, 1959, 1964, 1965), and most of the stats today didn’t even exist back then. We all know about Wilt’s 100 point game, but could he have done it in today’s game? Could any of these guys play in today’s era? Or vice versa?
Wilt had 2× NBA champion (1967, 1972), NBA Finals MVP (1972),4× NBA Most Valuable Player (1960, 1966–1968), 13× NBA All-Star (1960–1969, 1971–1973), 7× All-NBA First Team (1960–1962, 1964, 1966–1968), 2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1972, 1973), 7x NBA scoring champion (1960–1966), 11× NBA rebounding champion (1960–1963, 1966–1969, 1971–1973), NBA assists leader (1968).
At the end of the day they all changed the game at some capacity and we appreciate what they did for the game we love. For every occupation or talent, there will always be a G.O.A.T. conversation to have. Who’s the real G.O.A.T.??? Well, that’s for you to decide.